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  Designers: Leslie Travers - Reviews

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala (May 2018)

'Le scene pensate da Leslie Travers e la regia di David Pountney hanno come centro proprio lo spirito dannunziano‚ cui il lavoro di Zandonai si ispirò‚ attraverso la sottolineatura prepotente dei due temi più cari al poeta vate: la donna‚ rappresentata da un enorme mezzo busto modellato sulle opere di Canova‚ e la guerra‚ protagonista del secondo atto‚ con la torre rotonda qui reinterpretata tramite una struttura metallica circolare a tre piani armata di cannoni. Non poteva mancare ovviamente il libro‚ enorme‚ che funge anche da alcova‚ avidamente letto dai due innamorati‚ sui quali sovrasta costante la minaccia‚ rappresentata da una serie di lame che trapassano la figura femminile di fondo.///The scenes designed by Leslie Travers and directed by David Pountney center the very D’Annunzio spirit‚ which Zandonai’s work inspired‚ through the overbearing emphasis of the two themes most dear to the poet vate: the woman‚ represented by a huge half-length modeled on the works of Canova‚ and the war‚ protagonist of the second act‚ with the round tower here reinterpreted through a three-storey circular metal structure armed with cannons. Of course‚ the book could not be missing‚ which also acts as an alcove‚ avidly read by the two lovers‚ on which the threat is constantly dominated‚ represented by a series of blades that pierce the underlying female figure.'

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala
The Opera Critic (May 2018)

'The libretto by Tito Ricordi relies on Gabriele D’Annunzio’s drama‚ which depicts the Medieval setting of the action with gloomy colors‚ with violent passions dominating over the greedy characters‚ and in which men are mostly concerned with war and intrigue. Against this background‚ women are a sort of foreign body: they are also guided by passions‚ but depend completely on men‚ and can only try to cope with their helplessness.
Set designer Leslie Travers captured the difference between sexes by staging the opening scene‚ with the maids playing‚ later joined by Francesca and her sister‚ in a light setting dominated by a reclining‚ gigantic female statue. When the men break into this environment‚ the statue is pierced by long black spears. In the second act‚ the men are at war. A rotating structure serves as the base for Paolo and his brothers‚ who come from the battlefield. Back to the female ambience again in the third act‚ a biplane reminds of Gabriele D’Annunzio and his war rhetoric (the poet fought in the Italian Air Force in the First World War)‚ as do fascist uniforms that appear among costumes‚ by costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca‚ partly a reminder of the First World War‚ partly of the Middle Ages.

Werther‚ Opéra national de Lorraine (May 2018)

'D’apparence classique‚ d’une scénographie somptueuse‚ elle séduit par les subtilités d’un décor rempli de perspectives accentuées et orné de superbes toiles peintes affichant une nature absente par ailleurs. Le plafond se soulève parfois selon les situations‚ apportant une échappée dans cet univers très clos et étouffant‚ renvoyant aux conventions sociales qui brident les personnages. Ce n’est qu’au dernier tableau que les murs tombent‚ donnant sur un noir abyssal inquiétant‚ renforçant l’action où les vrais sentiments peuvent enfin éclore de part et d’autre‚ sans limites.///With a classic appearance and a sumptuous scenography‚ it seduces with the subtleties of a decor filled with accentuated perspectives and adorned with beautiful painted canvases displaying a nature otherwise absent. The ceiling sometimes rises depending on the situation‚ bringing an escape in this universe very closed and stuffy‚ referring to the social conventions that constrain the characters. It is only at the last painting that the walls fall‚ giving onto a disturbing abyssal black‚ reinforcing the action where the true feelings can finally hatch on both sides‚ without limits.

Werther‚ Opéra national de Lorraine
Forum Opera (May 2018)

'Le spectacle proposé à Nancy nous montre donc la nature uniquement telle que l’homme se la représente et se l’approprie dans ses intérieurs‚ à travers ces papiers peints panoramiques si à la mode à l’époque où Goethe écrivit son roman épistolaire. Le premier acte se déroule ainsi non pas devant mais dans la maison du Bailli‚ dont le plafond se soulève pour révéler les vives couleurs dont Werther sait parer le panorama un peu défraîchi qui orne les murs. Au troisième acte‚ on passe à un panorama bien plus sombre et tourmenté : c’est un paysage plus Sturm und Drang‚ qui décore la demeure de Charlotte‚ percé d’un couloirs tortueux qui traduit les angoisses des personnages principaux‚ avant qu’une absence quasi-totale de décor renvoie finalement Werther et Charlotte à leur seuls sentiments. Dans ce décor dont les grands pans de mur aident à bien projeter les voix vers la salle...///
The show proposed in Nancy shows us nature only as man pictures it and appropriates it in its interiors‚ through these panoramic wallpapers so fashionable at the time when Goethe wrote his epistolary novel. The first act takes place not in front of‚ but in the house of the Bailli‚ whose ceiling rises to reveal the bright colors of which Werther knows stave off the somewhat worn-out panorama adorning the walls. In the third act‚ we move to a much darker and more tormented panorama: it is a landscape more Sturm und Drang‚ which decorates the residence of Charlotte‚ pierced by a tortuous corridors which expresses the anxieties of the main characters‚ before an almost total absence of scenery finally returns Werther and Charlotte to only their feelings. In this setting‚ whose large sections of wall help to project the voices to the room…

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala (April 2018)

'The "brilliant garden" in Leslie Travers’ scenography was a dazzling white environment dominated by a gigantic female figure which at the end of the Act 1 was pierced by sharp points when the violent male world broke in. In the war scene that followed one could see a menacing rotating structure with cannons and the flashes of their shots concluded Act 2. '

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala
BR Klassik (April 2018)

'Eine überdimensionale weiße Venus-Statue dominiert das bedeutungsschwangere zylindrische Bühnenbild von Leslie Travers. Um den weißen reinen Raum der Francesca legt sich ein schwarzer Metallring‚ bewehrt mit Kanonen‚ aus denen zum Ende des zweiten Aktes aus vollen Rohren geschossen wird. Danach ist die weiße Venus von schwarzen Speeren durchbohrt‚ und Francesca und Paolo sterben am Ende einen Fantasietod‚ während sie zwischen den Seiten eines riesigen Buches liegen - ein Bild dafür‚ dass der geliebte Paolo nur eine Projektion von Francescas Sehnsucht nach Liebe ist. ///An oversized white Venus statue dominates the meaningful cylindrical stage design of Leslie Travers. A black metal ring surrounds the white‚ clean room of the Francesca‚ reinforced with cannons‚ from which‚ at the end of the second act‚ it is fired from full pipes. Afterwards‚ the white Venus is pierced by black spears‚ and Francesca and Paolo eventually die a fantasy death while lying between the pages of a huge book - a picture that the beloved Paolo is only a projection of Francesca’s yearning for love. '

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala
Connessi all’Opera (April 2018)

'La scena realizzata da Leslie Travers presenta così un enorme busto femminile bianco‚ vagamente neoclassico‚ che a un certo punto viene confitto da lance‚ a significare lo stupro subito dalla protagonista (che si credeva destinata a Paolo e invece deve sposare lo sciancato Gianciotto) e più in generale la brutale penetrazione dell’universo femminile da parte di quello maschile. ///
The scene created by Leslie Travers presents a huge white female bust‚ vaguely neoclassical‚ which at one point is pierced by spears‚ signifying the rape suffered by the protagonist (who was believed to be destined for Paolo and instead has to marry the cripple Gianciotto) and more generally the brutal penetration of the feminine universe by the masculine one.

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala (April 2018)

'La scenografa Leslie Travers con bell’effetto ha inventato una sorta di cavea occupata da un busto canoviano di donna nuda‚ che nell’evolversi della vicenda viene trafitto da lance e dotato di due mani‚ una a reggere il libro "galeotto" che serve anche da letto del peccato e un’altra a sorreggere il biplano del vate che vola su Vienna a lanciare "parole". ///
The scenographer Leslie Travers with beautiful effect invented a sort of cavea occupied by a woman’s bust of Canova naked‚ which in the evolution of the story is pierced by spears and equipped with two hands‚ one to hold the book "galeotto" that also serves as a bed of sin and another to support the biplane of the vate who flies over Vienna to launch " words".

Francesca da RImini‚ La Scala
Opera Click (April 2018)

'Nel primo atto il busto di una scultorea figura di donna coglie la bellezza e la sensualità femminile‚ verrà poi trafitto da lance nel passaggio al bellicoso secondo atto. Nel terzo e nel quarto atto un biplano fracassato‚ che allude alle spericolate imprese di guerra del vate‚ fa da cornice ai tentativi delle donne di riappropriarsi dei loro momenti di felicità spensierata. E un librone enorme fungerà da peccaminosa alcova alla fine del duetto d’amore e letto di morte per i due sfortunati amanti. Il secondo e il quarto atto sono invece “soffocati” da un muro di ferraglia‚ che richiama gli spalti del castello dei Malatesta‚ tra scale‚ ringhiere‚ balaustre‚ passaggi difficoltosi come dedali inestricabili da cui si affacciano numerosi cannoni‚ fumanti alla fine della battaglia. ///
In the first act the bust of a sculptural figure of a woman captures the beauty and sensuality of women‚ will then be pierced by spears in the passage to the warlike second act. In the third and fourth acts a smashed biplane‚ which alludes to the daring exploits of the vate‚ frames the attempts of women to regain their moments of carefree happiness. And a huge big book will act as a sinister alcove at the end of the love duet and death bed for the two unlucky lovers. The second and fourth acts are instead "suffocated" by a wall of scrap metal‚ which recalls the terraces of the Malatesta castle‚ including stairs‚ railings‚ balustrades‚ difficult passages as inextricable mists from which numerous cannons‚ smoking at the end of the battle‚ overlook.

La Clemenza di Tito‚ Opera Theatre St Louis
Broadway World (June 2017)

'The set and costumes by Leslie Travers are visually stunning! Simple‚ spare. In the dim opening light a colossal . . . something . . . hovers over the entire stage. As light slowly grows we recognize it as a vast steely Roman eagle‚ wings spread‚ talons gripping on the left a bundle of spears‚ on the right an Olive Branch. Titus muses on these from time to time in his struggle to choose between punishment and mercy.'

La Clemenza di Tito‚ Opera Theatre St Louis
Jay Harvey Upstage (June 2017)

'Leslie Travers’ set design is dominated by a huge‚ fierce eagle‚ constructed in several parts and raised and lowered on wires to suit the action‚ about which more later…The stage pictures were striking and apt. That magnificent eagle‚ merely glimpsed at first in partial lighting of legs and talons that made them seem abstract‚ suddenly becomes concretely visible with the initial entrance of Titus and the chorus accompanying it.'

La Clemenza di Tito‚ Opera Theatre St Louis
Opera Today (June 2017)

'Leslie Travers has provided a handsome set design that suggests ancient Rome‚ counter-balanced with a luxurious costume design that is more rooted in the time of the opera’s composition.'

La Clemenza di Tito‚ Opera Theatre St Louis
St Louis Post Dispatch (June 2017)

'Set and costume designer Leslie Travers kept things in black and white‚ with handsome costumes; a giant American eagle‚ its head facing the olive branch in its right talons‚ rose and fell as required‚ for a simple but effective design.'

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia
DC Metro Theater Arts (May 2017)

'Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) is such a perfect amalgam of comedy and pathos that audiences will cheer even a flawed performance of it. It’s hard to get everything right‚ with ten complicated characters‚ an orchestra‚ and sets representing multiple rooms and gardens of a nobleman’s palace. That’s why it was such a rare treat to see the all-around excellence of this new production which has sets and costumes by Leslie Travers and direction by Stephen Lawless...
Massive sets portrayed the ornate exterior of a grand palazzo and its lavish rooms‚ and ingeniously revealed the corridors which connect them. Much of the action involved people skulking down those corridors and listening-in at doors. '

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia
Huffington Post (May 2017)

'Leslie Travers imposing moveable set design is a study of contrasts- marble walls and stately interior that eventually gives way to garish bas-relief exteriors and a grotesque stone garden. Meanwhile‚ Travers’ costumes look like Versailles couture of the first order‚ Burnish organza breeches‚ sequin studded court coats and The Countess’ boudoir lingerie‚ gauzy summer hoop dresses and ballroom gowns. They couldn’t have been more finely detailed if they were built by Adrian on the MGM lot.'

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia
Opera Critic (May 2017)

'With sets and costumes by Leslie Travers‚ he presents an extravagantly ornate palace‚ staffed by servants in crimson livery and powdered wigs. This emphasizes the wealth and power of Count Almaviva more than any other production.

The sets prominently reveal corridors where servants skulk‚ and multiple doors where they peek in at the activities of their rulers. The doors provide many comic opportunities; they also remind me of Stephen Sondheim’s “Opening Doors” which hint at future opportunities.'

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia
Philadelphia Magazine (May 2017)

'Visually‚ this Figaro also scores points‚ with beautiful scenery‚ lighting‚ and costumes (it keeps the period setting‚ which is my preference—the historical details work best that way). I particularly liked the opening image‚ a stone wall with sculpted portraits presumably of older members of the House of Almaviva—gray eminences‚ indeed.

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia (May 2017)

'The first thing you see at the Academy of Music’s new co-production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (with Lyric Opera of Kansas City‚ San Diego Opera‚ and Pam Beach Opera) is a large set with cameo likenesses of Count and Countess Almaviva on a family tree along a palatial garden wall. Leslie Travers’ set is not only striking visually‚ but the wall transforms and move throughout the production‚ revealing closets to hide in‚ windows to jump out of‚ and a portico from which the audience can see who is at the door while the characters debate whether or not to open it. '

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia
Seen and Heard International (May 2017)

'One advantage of Lawless’s current revisit is the possession of superbly attractive sets and costumes by Leslie Travers'

Twelfth Night‚ Royal Exchange Theatre
British Theatre Guide (April 2017)

'Jo Davies’s production places the action‚ in Leslie Travers’s design‚ on a sand-sprinkled stage‚ which has obvious relevance for the opening when Viola is washed up on the shore after the shipwreck but also produces a brilliant visual effect of a winding path where Malvolio discovers the letter that leads to his downfall just before the interval.'

Twelfth Night‚ Royal Exchange Theatre
The Times (April 2017)

'Faith Omole’s shipwrecked Viola is flung‚ distraught and disorientated‚ on to the sand spit of Leslie Travers’s design‚ with its splintered planking‚ falling rain and turquoise sea. In her orange lifejacket‚ she’s strikingly suggestive of a 21st-century refugee.'

Billy Budd‚ Opera North
The Herald Scotland (December 2016)

'Phelan’s staging‚ on Leslie Travers clever two-level set that is as much decaying building as late 18th century man-o-war‚ brilliantly conveys the pecking order on the quarter-deck as well as the cramped conditions of the men‚ and the superb chorus is kept very busy all night.'

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera Philadelphia/Lyric Opera Kansas
Kansas City Star (November 2016)

'Major kudos go to Leslie Travers‚ whose richly detailed‚ character-defining costume designs were sumptuous‚ his regal set design crafty and versatile.'

Billy Budd‚ Opera North
Leeds List (October 2016)

'It’s impressive to behold‚ both realistic and fantastical‚ with curved surfaces sweeping down onto the stage and crooked edges creating ominous shadows. Seriously‚ kudos to Set and Costume Designer‚ Leslie Travers‚ he outdid himself here.'

Don Carlo‚ Grange Park Opera
The Telegraph (June 2016)

'Jo Davies directs resourcefully and sensibly against Leslie Travers’ versatile set‚ in which brutal concrete walls are made to suggest prison‚ palace and plaza in turn. Period kitsch is held at bay: costuming is austerely black‚ with atmosphere created by flickering flame and candles. '

Pleasure‚ Opera North
Classical Source (May 2016)

'The star of the evening‚ apart from Garrett‚ is the production design. Huge‚ squat letters spelling out the title of the opera form the acting and singing space‚ lit in changing colours to reflect the gaudy location and the flames of Hell. The horizontals gave Garrett shelves for toilet rolls and hand cleaner‚ the curves of the letters winding around a urinal and a basin – industrial‚ functional and startling.'

Pleasure‚ Opera North
MusichOMH (May 2016)

'Leslie Travers’ set is highly atmospheric‚ with glistening stringed curtains surrounding the stage‚ and huge letters standing in the centre that spell out ‘pleasure’ as they light up.'

Rebecca‚ Kneehigh
The Guardian (November 2015)

'The real star of the show is Leslie Travers’ design‚ offering a space where house and beach meet and where past‚ present and future coil around each other like the smoke that eventually engulfs the house. Rice uses the space brilliantly‚ offering an image of Rebecca like a drowned mermaid‚ and turning Manderley into a rocky obstacle course and a place where the louche and the elegant‚ popular culture and snobbery‚ freedom and imprisonment‚ all co-exist.'

I Puritani‚ Welsh National Opera
The Arts Desk (September 2015)

'The most striking moment of the production‚ and by far its most memorable passage‚ is Arturo’s first official entrance as a Cavalier aristocrat (the scruffiness is part of the usual preludial dumb-crambo)‚ and Elvira’s switch from blue twin set‚ vintage 1970‚ to a flowing dress of the civil war time. Here something subtle and intriguing takes place. The flowing dress has already appeared while the twin set was onstage and singing; but soon the flowing dress is singing while the twin set looks on. Double casting? No‚ but a doppelganger‚ cunningly staged and designed (by Leslie Travers).'

I Puritani‚ Welsh National Opera
What’s On Stage (September 2015)

'…Elvira‚ much earlier in proceedings than Bellini or Pepoli envisaged‚ is prone to psychotic episodes. And she’s stopped taking her tablets‚ so by the time designer Leslie Travers unleashes his brilliantly simple coup de théâtre she’s in a bit of a state.'

Salome‚ Santa Fe Opera
The New York Times (August 2015)

' Set in the early 20th century‚ the production is a headily‚ effectively Freudian take on the piece. Several scenes suggest spaces in the mind‚ like Jochanaan’s cistern‚ here a creepily arid‚ crumbling attic where he sits at a table‚ scribbling. …
Here was opera with vividness equal to the stunning landscape surrounding it.'

Rebecca‚ Kneehigh
The Telegraph (May 2015)

'Leslie Travers’s extraordinary set expresses a world where nothing is quite what it seems. Like something out of a Salvador Dalí painting‚ the ruins of a stately home (huge chandelier‚ peeling plasterwork‚ a grand broken staircase) merge into a sweep of rocks and the upside-down hull of a wrecked boat.'

The Marriage of Figaro‚ Opera North
The Telegraph (January 2015)

'Jo Davies’s interpretation‚ cunningly designed by Leslie Travers‚ has no ideological axe to grind in moving the drama to an early twentieth-century setting...
The net result is a Figaro of exceptional ensemble‚ rich in charm‚ humour and vitality: beautifully sung‚ sensitively staged. For pure enjoyment‚ what more can opera offer?'